Warehouse workers will be looking over their shoulders nervously after Amazon acknowledged the most sophisticated robotic arm yet built with a first place prize at its annual robot picking challenge.
As the name suggests the competition puts a variety of automated shelf stackers and pickers through their paces in a mock warehouse to keep tabs on how the technology is progressing, with this year’s winner capable of picking items at the rate of 100 an hour.
Whilst this still falls far below the 400 items per hour attainable by humans it represents a significant closing of the gap on last year, which could manage to pick only 30 items in the same time.
Adding to the achievement Amazon also made the challenge significantly harder this time around by increasing the variety of objects required to be placed in more densely filled bins.
An Amazon spokesperson said: “Robotics enhance the job for employees but [do] not replace them. In fact, we continue to hire. Many of those roles are being created in buildings where employees are working alongside Amazon robotic drive units." The spokesperson added that in the company's robot-filled warehouses end result was "a symphony of humans and technology."
Developed by the Dutch based TU Delft Robotics Institute and Delft Robotics the speedy bot was fastest at both taking stock off shelves and stowing them back by relying on, although it did suffer a 16.7 per cent failure rate.